April 28, 2012

Y is for...YA: So Much To L♥VE

We've almost reached the end of this A to Z journey, and as much as I've enjoyed it, I'm looking forward to a break from blogging daily. If you know your ABCs, you know that today is the second last day of the challenge, and we're on the letter Y. In my mind, Y stands for one thing only→ YA.

YA: So Much to L♥VE

When I've approached this topic in the past, I've always focused on a YA vs. Adult kind of conversation. I don't really see the point of doing that today. Both markets have their merits and drawbacks, so why bother comparing them? Leave that to the blowhards who like to slam on YA.

While YA fiction isn't perfect, there's so much to love about the books in this market. Here's what keeps me reading YA:

ACCESSIBILITY
The themes, the struggles, the things that make the reader smile or cry—they reach a whole multitude of readers on so many different levels. As an adult, I can still relate to many teen themes, because once upon a time I was a teen too. And the crazy thing is, many of the issues that crop up—acceptance, identity, relationships—are all things that I still struggle with in my thirties. To some degree we can all relate to these stories. We might not know what it's like to be a vampire, a siren, a tribute, or whatnot, but we do remember what it's like to be a teen and everything that goes along with that.

HOPE
The characters in these books might be dealing with the death of loved ones, battling diseases themselves, fighting for their lives in a dystopian or post-apocalyptic future, or just trying to make it in the minefield that is high school. The common thread in nearly every YA book is the element of hope. Circumstances may be at their absolute worst, but somehow hope manages to creep its way in. 

STORYTELLING
There are just so many really compelling YA stories. They don't tend to meander, or waste page after page digressing on this or that subject just to sound deep. They tell a story and do a darn good job of it. Happy, sad, heart-stopping, heart-warming, or hilarious—we care about the character(s) and their journeys. There are definitely profound points made, but how they're made is what shines. In her NY Times article Authors Taking Risks Isn't Kid Stuff , author Patrick McCormick says:
For a young adult audience, authors have to be at the top of our game. We're competing with Facebook and smartphones, DVRs and iPods—not to mention SATs and extracurriculars. We have to capture and hold our readers' (limited) attention on Page 1 and sustain it until the end. Young adults are willing to accompany an author just about anywhere—to a dystopian future or the ancient past—but they will not tolerate anything extraneous or self indulgent.
As an adult, I won't tolerate that kind of self-indulgence. And anything pretentious? Gah! Loathe it.


There are so many other things that I could spend time praising in YA—swoonworthy romance (neither gratuitous nor nasty), fantastic world-building and character development, pretty covers (silly to mention, but totally true), unique takes on storytelling—but I need to wind this post down. 

My name is Jaime, and I read (and write) YA.
(And I'm proud of it. So there!)



14 comments:

  1. LOVE this post. YA is hands down my absolute favorite to read and to write! and I don't think that will ever change.

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  2. I was having a little Twitter chat with Gary Corby, author of THE PERICLES COMMISSION (you know, my book of the month--and isn't it cool to be able to chat with authors on Twitter? I digress...) and he told me that while he writes for an adult audience, he finds his style leans far more YA. And having read his excellent book, I can see exactly what he means. I certainly think his work would have broad appeal to the YA audience, even if it doesn't deal specifically with "teen issues"... but I like to think teens are sophisticated enough to be able to handle that. :)

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  3. I read and write YA too. I like them for their accessibility as well. But I always try and mix it up. I'm not a huge fan of those that lean too heavily on the romantic side of things. There's only so much love triangles I can process before feeling a need to watch a few slasher movies, just to maintain a sense of balance. :)

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  4. EXCELLENT post, Jaime!!!

    You've mentioned many of the great reasons why I too, read and write YA. Sure there are (strange) people that just don't get it, just don't understand - and that's really such a shame. Why close your mind off to anything, be it YA or not?

    But I guess in the end, it's really just their loss.

    LOVE YA - always have, and always will!

    Hope you have a great weekend!

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  5. These are the exact reasons I write young adult! I love love love it's accessibility - the fact that you can pick up a book for escapism and end up learning life lessons completely on accident. Well ok, the author meant them to be there, but they were neither painfully blatant or horribly obtuse and buried so deep in the subtext that they required hours of surgery (read: AP English class) to extract.

    This is not to say that books which are like this are bad. They are very very good. However I love that YA can approach this depth while maintaining an excellent page-turner of a story. This has the beautiful benefit of attracting all the readers that wouldn't dream of putting a toe in an AP English class (aka most of the world)!

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  6. I've loved your A-Z posts, Jaime. You've been amazing!

    And gosh, YA is fantastic. It's what got me reacquainted with reading again as an adult ;)

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  7. You've SO listed everything awesome about YA. The school where I work at just had a book fair, and I left out carrying more books than the students! Hey, no shame in my game. :)

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  8. Love this post Jaime. I am really sad that the A-Z challenge is almost over. I really liked doing it. I read YA because I love the escape it gives me. I have been talking with a 7th grader I work w/ at my internship and I have been having FABULOUS conversations as she's reading Catching Fire. YA brings people together. :) simple as that

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  9. have an interesting space, a great pleasure to read you.
    if you like the poetry I invite you to my space.
    happy day.
    a greeting.

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  10. I love this, Jaime! I'm a proud YA reader and writer too, and I couldn't be more happier about it! YA books are the best! Seriously, I have trouble making it through most adult books now because they just don't hold the same magic for me. Pretty sure I'll never give YA up. :)

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  11. Yay!!! Me too! I'm a HOPE addict and I think that's why I love reading YA. And I love the stories. LOVE, LOVE, LOVE the stories. Great Y post!

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  12. My name is Rachel and I read and write YA too! :)
    I love the array of story ideas that come from YA novels, and the pacing. I know that if I'm reading a good YA novel, I'll be captivated from page 1.

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  13. I've so enjoyed reading your blog this month! I'm taking a week off, but I'll be back to see what you're up to!

    *My name is Daisy and I write and read YA too*

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